Occupation: Consultant/Project Manager
Family: Embrace life with my children Michael age 21 and Rachel age 19, along with my life partner Terry, our Golden Retriever predictably named Buddy, and assorted other creatures.
Greatest achievement so far: Supporting the cyclists of the 2013 Sears National Kids Cancer Ride by driving the RV support vehicle, doing laundry and prepping road side meals. Volunteering at numerous Inside Rides. Helping to rebuild cabins at Camp Trillium, gutting them, installing insulation and roofing. Raising $11,000 for the Arthritis Foundation as part of the Joints in Motion Team destined for Everest Base Camp in Nepal. Advocated for families in need at the Eden Community Food Bank, and acted as Newsletter Editor and web master. Most importantly, providing a role model for my children.
As far back as I can remember I’ve always felt the need to give back, long before the idea "Pay it Forward" ever became a popular slogan. If there was an "a-thon" of some sort you can bet I was knocking on doors raising funds by reading, running, walking, biking or whatever the activity was for a cause. I also have a long standing love of cycling that traces back to my very first beat up hand me down bike I received at the tender age of 4. I remember my dad, brother and I, sanding it, painting it a teal like colour with yellow and pink daisies on it. It was a true original. I loved that bike! I’ve never considered myself a "cyclist" I’ve always just been someone who enjoys cycling and the open road with the countryside rolling by. Fast forward a few decades, and here I am registered for a huge cycling challenge with the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride. 17 days of cycling 150km/day on average. I guess I am a cyclist! More important is the reason for the ride – Helping Kids with Cancer through fundraising and awareness. Cycling and giving back; there couldn’t be better combination!
Why this fundraising ride and not others? 100% of all donations go to helping kids with cancer. The Sears National Kids Cancer Ride and the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation are committed to raising funds solely for children’s cancer charities. 100% of all donations helping kids with cancer. And they need our help! I learned through my involvement with the foundation over the years that only 3% of all cancer research dollars are directed towards childhood cancers, that’s just wrong! With the foundations efforts and focus on childhood cancer it would be great to see that percentage grow through fundraising and awareness, and I’m more than happy to direct my energy to help.
Unaware, that’s what I was. Perhaps most people like me don’t even realize kids get cancer and just how many. 1,700 new cases each year and it’s the leading cause of non accidental death of kids in Canada. What those numbers don’t tell are the harrowing stories of the children with cancer, the painful treatments, the debilitating side effects, risk of recurrence, secondary cancers and financial ruin for families. I learned of the devastation through a friend of a friend who’s daughter was diagnosed with a malignant brain stem cancer. Hearing what they went through in the short time between diagnosis and her death from cancer was heartbreaking. No child should suffer this way and no parent should ever have to hear the words "your child has cancer" or lose their child to cancer. More needs to be done.
While volunteering for the ride in 2013, I heard from children and teens who survived, their parents, and from parents whose child died from cancer. They are incredible strong people who have endured the worst you could ever imagine. I still remember the moment when I met Jacquie after an event presentation as we were getting ready to go to our next destination. Jacquie was so thankful for the work the cyclists and foundation were doing but she was so overcome with grief when she sought me out to say thanks and to share her story. She told me of her little niece Maddie, born with cancer and whisked into surgery shortly after her birth to remove tumours. Sadly after many treatments and a life in hospital Maddie died from cancer at the tender age of nine months. Her parents and family were devastated and the grief was overwhelming. Little Maddie died just 2 months before we visited the town of Redvers so Jacquie’s grief was fresh and deep. Together, we mourned Maddie. It was incredibly sad and shocking that kids are being born with cancer, really bad nasty cancers. Over the 17 day journey, I heard many moving stories, of loss, of courageous battles and of victories over this dreaded disease. But, more needs to be done.
Courage beads 13 feet long. What does that even mean? I learned that every time a child with cancer gets a needle or treatment they receive a courage bead. It takes one year and 200 treatments or needles to make a string 13 feet long, at least that was the case for Kamryn when she was treated for acute lymphoid leukaemia who thankfully is now in remission. As I’ve learned of some of the treatments kids with cancer endure, and dreadful side effects, one word comes to mind, barbaric. More needs to be done.
More needs to be done. And because I can I will do what I can. After hearing firsthand what these children with cancer endure, I needed to do more than volunteer in 2014. Where I was unaware before, my eyes have been opened. So this year I’m cycling and fundraising to help kids with cancer. More needs to be done. I can do more. I need to do more. Can you help?
Just 2 weeks ago, my co-workers nephew, age 8, was diagnosed with leukaemia. He woke up with numbness in his face and within a day’s time his whole world changed as he received the diagnosis. A port was inserted into his chest to receive harsh chemo treatments and all that it brings with it. Life as a carefree child has stopped. He’s only beginning his cancer journey and I pray that he wins his battle quickly so he can get back to the business of being a kid. One thing I’ve learned though, once a child gets cancer they grow up too fast. They are asked to endure incredibly painful treatments and show bravery most adults would be hard pressed to do. More needs to be done. Pray for him. God bless.